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Soil Erosion and Conservation

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  • Last Updated : 14 Mar, 2022

Soil is a vital natural resource that sustains the bulk of the world’s plant and animal life. It is a resource that can be replenished. Soil erosion is the loss of soil cover owing to natural forces such as wind and water. Plants and trees use their roots to keep the soil moist and retain the soil particles together. Deforestation, overgrazing, construction, and mining operations all contribute to the loss of vegetation cover.

Soil becomes dry and loose without vegetation cover, and it is easily eroded. Defective agricultural methods, such as ploughing up and down a hill, increase the rate of soil erosion by increasing the speed of the water running down the slope. Gully erosion occurs when running water carves deep channels through clayey soils, converting the land to bad land and rendering it unfit for cultivation.

What is Soil Erosion?

Soil Erosion is the process, in which the soil particles are loosened or washed away in the valleys, oceans, rivers, streams or far away lands. Soil erosion is a non-stoppable process that occurs either slowly or at a higher rate. 

It results in a dangerous situation which is a continuous loss of topsoil, soil collapse, ecological degradation, etc. The soil particles are loosening or being washed away in valleys, oceans, rivers, streams, or faraway areas as a result of this process. Human activities such as agriculture and deforestation have exacerbated the problem.

Soil erosion is a continuous process that can occur at a moderate or rapid pace. It leads to a steady loss of topsoil, ecological deterioration, and soil collapse, among other things.

Causes of Soil Erosion

There are many reasons through which soil erosion occurs:-

  • Flooding due to heavy rainfall: The high intensity of rainfall causes soil erosion. There are four types of soil erosion due to rainfall: Sheet erosion. Splash erosion, Rill erosion, and Gully erosion. Eroded soil washed away into the nearby streams and rivers due to the high amount of rainfall. The higher the amount of Rainfall higher will be the soil erosion.
  • Agricultural activities: Another main cause of soil erosion is the farming practices, they disturb the ground. The trees are cut down and the lands are ploughed for the germination of new seeds. Most crops are grown during springs and most of the soil is eroded during winters because the land lies fallow during winters.
  • Grazing: The grazing animals remove the plants or vegetation from the land through their feeding habit at a place. The only left is topsoil. They also pull out plants by their roots, due to which soil loosen up and more erosion will occur.
  • Mining: In the Mining process, a large number of trees were cut down to make the field fit for logging. due to which holden soil get lose and erosion occur in a frequent manner.
  • Constructional activities: The construction also lead to soil erosion. for construction purposes, the forests and grasslands are cleared which exposes the soil making it more favourable to erosion.

Types of Soil Erosion

The thing that we can do to improve the stability or quality of our crop is to reduce soil erosion. Different forms of soil erosion are as:

  1. Rain Drop or Splash Erosion: This kind of erosion is caused due to falling rainfall or raindrops over a soil surface which may cause the structure of the soil to be known as the raindrop or splash erosion.
  2. Rill Erosion: This kind of erosion, basically, is water erosion in which the erosion takes place when the water forms small channels or streams in the soil as it flows off-site. It is the most common form of erosion, It observes during heavy rain.
  3. Sheet Erosion: When a high amount of wind travels over the lands or fields that lead to the removal of soil in thin layers. Land areas with loose topsoil have greater chances to come under the category of sheet erosion.
  4. Gully Erosion: Gully erosion occurs due to the removal of soil along drainage lines by surface water runoff. Gully Erosion in India is most commonly found in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Gujrat, West Bengal and Rajasthan.

Effects of Soil Erosion

The major effects of soil erosion include:

  • Loss of fertile land: Due to Soil erosion, the top layer is the fertile layer (which contains all the organic compounds required for the growth of plants) which means there is fertility loss of soil,  The soil which has no fertility or the top layer leads to non-productive fields.
  • Air Pollution: The soil which is dust particle in the air cause polluted air. Toxic substances such as pesticides and petroleum mixed with soil particles can be extremely hazardous when inhaled. that also lead to pulmonary diseases in humans.
  • Waterways pollution: The agricultural soil contains insecticides, pesticides, fertilizers, and several different chemicals. where the soil flows that pollutes the water bodies.
  • Desertification: Soil erosion is a major factor in desertification. It transforms the living environment regions into deserts. This also leads to loss of biodiversity, degradation of the soil, and lead various changes in the ecosystem.

Prevention of Soil Erosion 

This is a serious environmental issue. Steps should be taken to reduce this problem. there is a various listed method for prevention:

  • Planting trees on barren lands, through these roots can hold soil tightly to limit erosion of soil.
  • Erosion on the slopes can be reduced with Mulch matting.
  • Put a series of Fibre cloth logs to prevent any water or soil from washing away.
  • At the base of the slope, the building wall can stop the eroded layer to flow down.
  • The proper drainage systems at every household can lead to water flows down into proper water collecting systems.
  • Terrace cultivation leads to the reduction of soil erosion, this practise is done in Western and Central Himalayas.
  • Strip Cropping – When a large field is divided into strips and strips of grass are left to grow between the crops. Then, this breaks up the force of the wind. This method is known as Strip Cropping.

Soil Conservation

There are different methods through which soil can be conserved:-

  1. Afforestation: It is one of the best methods to conserve soil, we can increase the area under forests. Cutting of trees should be stopped and new plants should be planted through which soil erosion and quality of soil can improve.
  2. Crop Rotation: The rotation of crop means at different seasons grow different crops at the same field of land. In India, peasants grow a particular crop in the same field year after year. This mal technique takes away a certain amount of element from the soil, making it infertile and lead unsuitable for crop production.
  3. Checking Overgrazing: Grazing is important for cattle and somewhat it also benefits the crop, But overgrazing of grasslands by animals, especially by cattle, herds and sheep and goats, should be properly checked. One can check that field should not be overgrazed the grazing field should be changed periodically so that land would regenerate.
  4. Conservation Tillage: It is field operations aimed at preserving soil aggregates, organic matter and surface residue from previous crops.
  5. Constructing Dams: By constructing dams across the rivers it leads to a reduction in the risk of the flow of soil in the flood case. It leads to checking the speed of water and saving soil from erosion.

Sample Questions

Question 1: Define Resources and their kind.


Environmental material which can be used to satisfy our general needs which are economically feasible, culturally acceptable and more on is technologically accessible, is termed as ‘Resource’.

Types of Resources:

  1. Natural Resources
  2. Human or Man-made Resources

Question 2: Define types of resources on the basis of origin.


On the basis of origin resources are of two types:

  • Biotic Resources – All those things which composed of living things are called Biotic Resources. eg: flora and fauna, Human beings,  fisheries and livestock etc.
  • Abiotic Resources – All those things which are composed of non-living things are called abiotic resources. eg: rocks, Rivers and metals etc..

Question 3: Give the percentage of Land under important relief features.


The percentage of Land under important relief features are:

  • Plain: 43%
  • Plateaus: 27%
  • Mountains: 30%

Question 4: Define why is agriculture the cause of Erosion?


Agriculture is one of the cause of the soil erosion due to the farming practices, it disturb the top soil. The trees are cut down and the lands are ploughed for the germination of new seed. Most crop are grown during springs and most of the soil is eroded during winters because the land lies fallow during winters. it causes soil erosion.

Question 5: Write some soil erosion prevention.


Some of the Soil erosion preventions are as,

  1. Planting trees on barren lands, through this roots can hold soil tightly to limit erosion of soil.
  2. Erosion on the slopes can be reduce with Mulch matting.
  3. Put a series of Fibre cloth logs to prevent any water or soil from washing away.
  4. At the base of slope building wall can stop eroded layer to flow down.

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